36 Years

Martin Coria | August 6, 2014

Estela de Carlotto, with 5 of the 114 recovered grandchildren. Photo: Grandmothers (Abuelas) of Plaza de Mayo

Estela de Carlotto, with 5 of the 114 recovered grandchildren. Photo: Grandmothers (Abuelas) of Plaza de Mayo

After thirty six years of search, “grandson # 114” was found yesterday by Argentine human rights group Grandmothers (Abuelas) of Plaza de Mayo. Abuelas was founded in 1977 by a small group of mothers of disappeared women who gave birth while in prison before being killed and disappeared during Argentina’s U.S.-backed military dictatorship (1976-1983). After creating new false identities to almost 500 newborn children, the military gave them illegally to “trusted” families who adopted them. Some of the grandchildren were recovered by their families in the 80’s, some in the 90’s and so on. One grandchild at a time. Some have been found by the Abuelas, some found the Abuelas after doubts about their identity.

Compared to the previous 113, grandson 114 is special as he is the grandson of Abuelas’s respected leader Estela de Carlotto (84). Estela’s picture and quotes are in today’s front-pages of most newspapers not only in Argentina but in most Latin American countries. “Thanks to God,” she said in a press conference yesterday.

Since its beginning, Abuelas has always asked for truth, justice and memory. They never asked for revenge and they always respected the times and feelings of the grandchildren (all of them in their 30’s now) for their adoptive families.

Abuelas started under military rule with very little domestic and international support and accompaniment. With solidarity, funding, accompaniment and advocacy in their home countries, Protestant churches, ecumenical groups and related organizations from the U.S., Canada and Europe were among the first ones to support Abuelas and similar groups, not only in Argentina but in other Latin American countries with military dictatorships at the time.

As part of its mission to work in partnership to promote peace and justice around the world, Church World Service continues to humbly support Abuelas and many local efforts to build strong democracies with social justice and respect for human rights for all.

Martin Coria is the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Coordinator at CWS.